Monday, December 15, 2008

EMOTIVE-A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle
Label-Virgin Records
Status-Out as of 2004
Rating-4.5 Stars

Making a song about war isn’t enough. Making a song that sounds like war is better. Making a song that sounds like it’s been through the most vile of war is basically what A Perfect Circle has done for their third album emotive. Covering everything from Devo to Joni Mitchell, they take on some of the most glorified anti-war songs and warp them into a very dark anti-war masterpiece. ‘Annihilation’ is a great start for it sets the mood immediately. The xylophone-y instrument along with the vocals being whispered through a filter really keep you listening, even though it’s very simple. Though written by a band called Crucifix, the anti-war message is especially seen in the lines ‘It’s your choice, peace or annihilation’. ‘Imagine’ is the most twisted cover of a song I’ve ever heard. John Lennon would probably cry if he heard it: It’s creates an aura of extreme despair and loss of hope and it’s forcefully dark. It’s awkwardly a really good version too. Maynard’s voice is extremely melodic so it really flows with the song. ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding’: Aided by creepy nasally-falsetto vocals, it’s probably a lot spookier than Elvis Costello could ever imagine. The interpretation is so perfect and different, but it still gets the message across. ‘What’s Going On’: Upon one listen to this, if you don’t tear up or cry, you really have no soul. The use of a light, yet heavily distorted guitar with the far-away sounding drums and lightly-smooth vocals makes this such an overwhelmingly brilliant and beautiful version. The way they did the line ‘father, father, everyone thinks we’re wrong’ would even move Marvin Gaye himself to tears. ‘Passive’ is not really an anti-war song, but it definitely sounds like a classic A Perfect Circle song. It’s a little softer (for them) compared to Mer de Noms, but it still keeps with the angry mood. ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’ is a very bizarre. The breathy gimmies and I need more’s are a little hard on the ears and the filter the vocals are going through to make him sound sinister are a little too much. The way they do the lines ‘you say the world’s got problems, well I’ve got problems of my own, but not the kind that can be solved with an atom bomb’ is very effective, and I admit that the organ that goes with it also is effective, but the song is just not that pleasing. ‘People Are People’ starts out a little iffy, but once the vocals come in it gets significantly better. The parts where they talk about brainwashed ideals like ‘It’s obvious you hate me, though I don’t know why, I’ve never even met you, what could I have done’ are very effective because the vocals sound real creepy. Upon listening to Devo’s original version of ‘Freedom of Choice’ you would never understand how they could take the instrumentation and mess with it to beyond recognition and yet still not lose the basic integrity of the song. ‘Let’s Have A War’ is very creepy. The strange vocals mixed in falsetto is very creepy (that’s a very common word here, huh?). Like ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’, it’s not too pleasing. ‘Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm of War Drums’ is basically just a remix of Pet from 13th step. It’s immensely scary and weird, but that makes it all the better. Though it’s not really that great of a song, I’d strongly suggest listening to it through head phones wit your eyes closed: You’ll embark on an amazing bizarre-stereo-effected journey. ‘When The Levee Breaks’ is almost just as strange of an interpretation of a song as ‘Imagine’ was. It’s slightly eerie elevator music, that’s basically it. ‘Fiddle and the Drum’ provides us with a 4 part harmony; Maynard sings all four parts. It’s gives you a very revolutionary war feel, even with it’s lack of instruments. Just the sheer perfection of this song sends shivers down your spine. The last words ‘oh my friend, we have all come to fear the beating of your drum’ sum up brilliantly the whole album. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest anti-war albums of my time. Though none of the writing is original, with the exception of ‘Passive’, the bizarre yet cohesive song selection and the completely original interpretations really make you feelstunned. The gravity of the political statements will for sure leave you fearing Johnny’s drum.
"If you choose not to be involved with decisions that affect your life on a daily basis, in our opinion, you forfeit your right to complain about it later."-Maynard James Keenan

Recommendations: Imagine, What's Going On, Fiddle and the Drum
A Perfect Circle's Official Website
Note: I didn't put a video because they only have a video for Imagine and some of the scenes in it create a 'stronger' political statement than I think this blog is ready for. I will try to post more reviews soon being that I'm in the process of reviewing a few so please stay tuned, though I won't make empty-promises. Thank you!


Ian France said...

Great review! I've got to say, this was probably a really good step for A Perfect Circle, this album really says what PC's all about, and definitely shows that they have great future potential, Their Imagine cover's fantastic, a beautifully dark twist on the Lennon classic, and I like the part where you say "if you don't tear up and cry, you really have no soul." I haven't listened to the song yet, so I guess I'll be the judge of that...

Double Hawk said...

Arnie: I really hope they make something soon because they've been not really a band since this came out. I promise you, you will get filled with emotion upon hearing it!